2019 season preview: Southmoore SaberCats

“We got to get in the playoffs, that’s the goal,” said Southmoore head coach Jeremy Stark, now in his fourth year as the head coach for the Sabercats.

“We’ve had a two-year drought of not being in the playoffs, so that’s what we talk about. We’ve got to get back in the playoffs.”

The Sabercats’ mission is clear as they work to improve on last years’ 3-7 record.

Offensively, the Sabercats will enter their second year under the tutelage of offensive guru Ty Prestige and his “Air Raid” type offense. Even though last year’s quarterback returns, it will be at a different position this year.

“We have nine starters returning on offense, including four of our five offensive linemen, our running back and two of our four receivers,” Stark said. “This spring, the offense was a lot further along than the defense throughout team camp, so we’re excited about this group and hopefully, we’ll be able to move the ball, put some points on the board and take the pressure off our defense.”

Senior Jayden Scott (6’1, 198) moves to wide receiver after starting at quarterback the previous two years.

“We felt like our quarterbacks, sophomore Noah Peters (5’9, 152) and junior Denver Blatt (5’8, 160) would be able to open up the field a little more and spread the opposing defense, allowing for bigger running lanes and more room to throw downfield.”

It’s an open battle at the quarterback spot, and Stark is expecting one of the two to take charge throughout the early scrimmages in August.

“Even though the returning receivers don’t have huge numbers, they are extremely deep as we have seven or eight different guys who could have big numbers by the end of the year.”

Joining Scott at the receiver position will be senior Khaden Easterwood (6’0, 175) who had 10 catches last year for 152 yards and two touchdowns along with senior Trevor Eilenberger (5’7, 165).

On the offensive line, the Sabercats will have juniors Bradyn Kellam (6’2, 287), Mac Garner (6’3, 289) and Zac Wertzberger (6’3, 210) to team up with sophomore Joshua Clay (5’10, 232) to open the running lanes and provide pass protection.

The Sabercats have only four returning starters on the defensive side of the ball and will be making a change from a 3-4 alignment to a 3-3 stack philosophy.

“The last two years, our offense has struggled, and our defense is what kept us in ballgames,” Stark said. “So historically our defense is what we have really hung our hat on.”

The Sabercats are looking to retool the defense and, with so many newcomers, the time is right to bring on the change.

Nose guard D.J. Ware (6’0, 335, Sr.) is a returning three-year starter and anchors the defensive front.

“He has really, really quick feet for a guy that big and can lift a house in the weight room and does a great job between the tackles stopping the run and draws a lot of attention up front,” Stark said.

Another returning three-year starter is senior middle linebacker Cody Clyma (5’11, 225). Clyma missed some time last year due to injury and is being counted on to make big contributions this year.

“Two years ago, we had a group of guys leave the program for what they thought at the time were greener pastures, and we finished 0-10,” Stark said. “Last year, nobody left, the guys wanted to be here, wanted to play for Southmoore, and we won three games, including two of the last three. So, we have kids that have accepted the challenge and instead of running from the challenge they’re taking it head on and we’re excited about that.” – 19SM

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